Ten Songs That Get Science Wrong (Part 2)

Heeeeeeeeeeeeeey everybody, how’s your week been? We’re back this week with more terrible and gory “science” songs.  While Part 1 focused mostly on muppet fighting pits, part 2 takes some interesting twisting in to gravity, terminal velocity, digits of pi, and Jason Deruuuuuuuuuuulo.

(What A) Wonderful World by Sam Cooke
Nominated Line: Whole Song

Bethany: You would think this song would annoy me, but I’m still putting it above Jimmy Buffett from last week. This was actually Ben’s irritated nomination, so I’m going to let him take the first shot.

Ben: I can’t help myself, whenever I see this song title, I mentally start singing the superior Louis Armstrong song by the same title. I have to reorient myself to remember just which song we’re talking about.

First off, let’s be fair and admit the resume of Sam Cooke is unimpeachable. Even this nothing of a song has all the casual soulfulness of all of Cooke’s work. But, dear God, is it banal as all heaven. The message is supposed to be, “I may not know anything else, but at least I know that I love you,” but it fails even in that simplicity of thought. The bridge in the song claims “Now, I don’t claim to be an A student, but I’m trying to be. For maybe by being an A student, baby, I can win your love for me.” This is a pipe dream, Sam. The only fact you’ve managed to correctly assess in this song is that one and one is two, and that’s not going to take you very far. You’re a grown man.

Even the rhyming structure sounds like something thrown together by someone who just found out what a poem is. The only words he successfully manages to rhyme are “you” and “too,” which doesn’t really count. The other verses only manage one rhyme, the supremely unsatisfying “don’t know much about the French I took, don’t know much about a science book.” I don’t know which one of those awkward lines was the one forced in to create the rhyme, but neither one does you any credit.

Bethany: There is something extra irritating about a person mangling science in order to come up with a banal rhyme. Kinda like a kid advocating to write an essay in lieu of their algebra final, then producing “C” work.

Strychnine by The Sonics
Nominated Line: Some folks like water, some folks like wine, but I like the taste of straight strychnine.

Bethany: This song is some sort of terrible reverse PSA. It’s not just one line advocating for eating strychnine, it appears to be MULTIPLE lines advocating for strychnine consumption. Is this a good idea? Well, per the CDC: “Strychnine is a strong poison; only a small amount is needed to produce severe effects in people. Strychnine poisoning can cause extremely serious adverse health effects, including death.”

So no.

I’d stick with wine, and send someone over to the Sonics house for a wellness check.

Ben: There’s a real misunderstanding of how poison works in this song: “wine is red, poison is blue” – no, guys, that’s not how it works. While I’m pleased you’re not just downing Windex and antifreeze, poisons are generally not color-coded, unless you’re playing a Dungeons and Dragons game on a Windows 98 operating system.

On the flip side, we don’t need to run a wellness check on the Sonics. This song came out a full 52 years ago, and yet all five members of the Sonics are alive, recording albums, and touring. Maybe they know something we don’t.

Bethany: Well I’m glad they’re okay. I did a quick Google search to see if their bad advice had gotten them in any legal trouble over the years, and they appear to be okay on that front as well.

Swan Dive by Ani Difranco
Nominated Line: “Gravity is nothing to me, moving at the speed of sound”

Bethany: You may remember my love of Ani Difranco from Week 1 when Ben brought up a concert of hers I missed back in high school due to my tyrannical and unfair parents. I still love Ani, and Swan Dive is a great reason why. Beautiful song with just enough discordance to reflect the angst of the lyrics.

That being said, this lyric is just wrong. Things that move at the speed of sound are still subject to gravity. DON’T IGNORE GRAVITY ANI THAT WILL END BADLY. We are working on jets that go five times the speed of sound, and they still have to worry about gravity. It’s a force to be reckoned with. I mean, it lacks the cache of  the electromagnetic forces, strong force or weak force, but I still wouldn’t mess with it.

Ben: You’d think that in a song called “Swan Dive,” Miss Difranco would have a greater respect for what kind of effect gravity has. She mentions that she’s just going to “get her feet wet, until I drown.” Well, of course you are, Ani, on a swan dive you enter headfirst.


Your feet are going to be the last thing to get wet.

Ani mentions that she’s diving into “shark-infested waters,” as if that’s going to be the thing that kills her. You’re traveling at the speed of sound towards a body of water, which is almost-but-not-quite impossible. Terminal velocity for a human is 118 mph, while the speed of sound is several times higher, at 767 mph. However, mankind has broken the sound barrier in free fall before. You might remember this:

However, that man was wearing a spacesuit and had a parachute. Even so, there were quite a few things that could have gone wrong midway, such as all of his blood boiling in his body.

Even if Miss DiFranco were to make it to the water on her ill-advised swan dive, things would be unlikely to go well for her afterwards.

Bethany: In her defense, a swan dive only starts with your hands if you’re a human calling something a swan dive. An actual swan dive as done by swans involves the feet being wet already.

Also, I think I’ve found the perfect solution for Ani’s scientific misunderstanding here AND a collaborator for her next album….these guys.

Pi by Kate Bush
Nominated Line: the part where she gets the digits of pi wrong

Bethany: Ugh. Kate Bush. Really. You would think I couldn’t hate a song that contained 150 digits of pi. But. They. Are. WRONG.

Check it out:

Kate Bush (first verse) 3.141592653589793238462643383279
Real pi 3.141592653589793238462643383279
Kate Bush (second verse) 5028841971693993751058231974944592307816406286208(…)821480865132
Real pi 502884197169399375105820974944592307816406286208998628034825


Kate Bush 8230664709384460955058223
Real pi 8230664709384460955058223

My only conclusion is that she had a mild stroke in the second verse and just skipped those extra digits. Why would you do this Kate? You had to know we’d check.

Ben: Oh, cripes, this song is nine-and-a-half minutes long? I don’t have this kind of time, Kate. I can just go look pi up on my phone, provided no one’s messed with the Wikipedia that day.

This is par for the course for Kate Bush, who thrives on gibberish, in case you’ve never see the lyrics to “50 Words For Snow.” I don’t know what Kate’s end game is, but it’s possible she’s just from another universe entirely. One that I don’t want to visit.

Bethany:  Her end game may be more well thought out than we’re giving her credit for, especially since her gaff here got her a whole mathematical conjecture named after her. The Kate Bush conjecture now reads: “Kate could have sung any finite sequence of digits and it would exist somewhere in the decimal expansion of Pi.”

I feel defeated.

Algebra by Jason Derulo
Nominated Line: “I got more problems than an algebra equation, they say become a doctor, I don’t have the patience.”

Bethany: Hi Jason, can we talk? About your problems here….for algebra, you can solve as many problems (or for as many variables) as you have equations. So if Jay-Z has 99 problems, he’s going to need 99 equations to solve them. You have one equation, and therefore only have one problem. Everything else is pretty unsolvable unless you call in reinforcements.

Ben: I flinched when I clicked the link to listen to the song, because I knew it would start with Derulo introducing himself, and of course, there it was. “Jason De-Rule-Ooooooooo!” Jason, this is a song on your own album. No one is confused about who is singing this song.

You have a problem with the first line, but my issue was with the second. Jason, stop fooling yourself, no one wants you to become a doctor. Everyone is quite certain that would be disastrous. Can you imagine a sentence scarier than, “excuse me, sir, Dr. Derulo will see you now?” I’d rather be operated on by Clive Owen at the Knick. Even if DeVry University gave you an honorary doctorate that they just emailed to you, I’d still sign the online petition protesting it.

Bethany: And there you have it folks! Now you may think we’ve hit the bottom, but we haven’t quite yet. You see, these 10 songs were all wrong, but at least they were coherently wrong. Next week we take on 10 songs that hit that special balance known as “not even wrong”.  Stay tuned.

Looking for songs that aren’t even wrong? Read that here!

One thought on “Ten Songs That Get Science Wrong (Part 2)

  1. I always thought “What a Wonderful World” was just giving a hypocritical nod to being an A student so the parents would refuse to let their kids listen to it, or something. Something similar with Jason going on. “Yeah, I’m stupid, and it would be better to be smart, but at least I’m witty.”


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